Re: Plus, smelly.


Honestly, I think it's very much dependent on the particular social environment. I feel so weird saying this as often as I do, but the school my kids went to really wasn't mean, even at this age. The kids were pretty decent to each other.

I don't know at all how you make it happen, but viciousness isn't innate in being a preteen.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:08 AM
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Smelly was true though.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:21 AM
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I kinda figured that was the case.

Our kids' school isn't horrible on the bullying pecking order stuff - there's no wealthy group shitting on everyone else like there are in a lot of the surrounding towns. But the camraderie-among-friends kind of shittiness is excessive. Just the sheer amount of n-word thrown around and extreme machismo, and one-upping and cutting each other down.

Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:37 AM
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(of course my kids have had the living daylights scared out of them on why they should NEVER FUCKING EVER utter the n-word. But it gets used a LOT.)

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:42 AM
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And mostly by kids who are not themselves black, but also not white, and I abstain from drawing any larger point.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:43 AM
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It's funny how much toxic social dynamics seem subject to path dependence.

There was a space opera, clearly drawing off the author's Coast Guard experience, where the main character gets out of the space-navy academy and is assigned to a dysfunctional ship where he's treated like shit, poorly trained, etc. And then later he gets transferred to another ship and discovers it's not like that everywhere, or even some sort of hazing ritual, he was just unlucky.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:47 AM
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But the gendered point is a good one. There's a lot of talk about the peculiar horribleness of tween girls, and I think it's all bullshit to the extent it implies that tween girls are Machiavellian monsters and boys of the same age are hapless idiots with no agency.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:57 AM
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My daughter just started high school, and it's really interesting to see the way that friend group norms vary between the middle schools that feed into the high school. Her own middle school friend group is remarkably conflict-averse. They basically aren't ever mean to each other, even in jest. (They mostly come from an elementary school that put a *lot* of emphasis on anti-bullying stuff.)

She has some friends from sports she's known for a while but is only going to school with now, and the differences are stark. Her middle school friend group and her sports friends are not getting along, at all, and from the outside it seems to me to be entirely about a difference in norms. What for one group would intolerably cruel wouldn't even register for the other group as an example of being particularly mean.

Posted by: MattD | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 8:58 AM
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This reached a crescendo about a year and a half ago with our older son's group. It seemed so exhausting. He's in seventh grade now, and they all seem pretty chill and supportive of each other (some kids are less part of the group now, which I think has helped).

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:38 AM
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it gets used a LOT

Uh, wow.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:40 AM
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As mentioned in other thread, I spent 9 hours yesterday with a group of five teens and a tween sibling, and they were remarkably nice to each other. We were at an amusement park, one kid was scared to do some rides, and while the others tried to convince him with mixed success, when he decided not to there was no teasing or mocking. It was more encouragement because they thought he'd have fun and was missing out.
The gender range was also so varied and just not an issue. There was a typically feminine girl, my younger girl who is clearly a girl but not girly, a more butch/athletic girl, my boy who has long hair and into pink but definitely identifies as male, a not very macho but clearly male boy, and a posturing macho boy. And no one cared how the others acted.
"Just the sheer amount of n-word thrown around"- I don't know about Black identifying kids but around here if a white kid did that they would get seriously messed up through formal punishment channels as well as peer consequences.

Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:44 AM
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My kids were white (still are) in a school where that was a minority, and the social expectation was that white kids would be polite about race in sort of a standard liberal way, but non-white kids were very relaxed about how you could talk -- not just language, but group stereotyping and so on. This wasn't perfectly fair, I suppose, but seemed to work okay. I never heard casual use of the n-word, but I think that was an observer effect: having a white adult in the room flipped everyone into liberal-politeness norms.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:51 AM
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I always watch what I say around white people. You never know what they might say if they feel invited.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:53 AM
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I mean it's not the tiniest bit surprising that group stereotyping is very common among people of color. I'm pretty happy to bet though that what's happening with heebie's community is very different and is more that it's very common for Mexican-Americans in Texas be super racist against Black people, hence Black Lives Matters swinging the Rio Grande Valley to Trump.

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:56 AM
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That might be the case, and I don't know the kids in Heebie's kids' school, but I'd bet a bunch that if the kids are mostly Mexican-American and they're using the n-word a lot, they're referring to each other rather than to absent Black people. Not that they're necessarily not racist, but that they're focused on other kids they know, rather than generalizing about groups.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 9:59 AM
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I don't remember the n-word being used much among the mostly white or Asian students of my magnet academy colocated with a heavily Black neighborhood school, but I remember "ghetto" being used a great deal, and always venomous, not friendly.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 10:08 AM
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The Calabat's peer group seems to be mostly functional, but he's only ten (when did that happen) and also kind of a Teflon kid in that he's hard to rile up and everyone likes him. We're not sure where he got the charisma. But the group is also unusually tolerant of differences that I think would have been an issue 30 years ago.

Pebbles was upset because someone teased her but she also noted that immediately someone else told the other kid off.

There isn't a lot of n-word afaik but there is like one black kid in the school. (It's majority minority but this is Utah.) I'm sure it different in other areas but the magnet program seems to be mostly decent kids, although the hormones haven't kicked in.

Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 11:42 AM
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15 is basically right. My kids just say they hear it a lot. Jammies has said that he's seen black kids look askance at Mexican-American kids who use it overmuch, but not that the Mexican-American kids are using it like klansmen.

I don't know the scope of how white kids may or may not use it. My guess is that those who grew up around racist adults who use it are aware that there are two different ways to use it, and it depends on the individual kid if they deploy the version that will basically drop an atom bomb or not.

My impression is that the atom bomb version is not common? Although I was really discouraged/upset to hear that a friend's kid was getting bullied for being Asian in the middle school.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 11:58 AM
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Given recent voting patterns, are you sure the Mexican-American kids aren't?

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 12:00 PM
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I'm not sure of anything anymore.

Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 12:10 PM
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My alma mater had an issue where an Indian American kid said, "why aren't I allowed to say n*****, I'm not white?" in reference to hip hop lyrics to a Black kid, the Black kid was upset, the Indian kid didn't take a hint and wanted to keep arguing about it, and eventually it was treated as a disciplinary matter but not stiffly enough for the satisfaction of a large portion of the Black kids, who complained to an alumni mentor who informed his friends (including myself). Generally insensitively bungled by the adults. Not an example of non Black kids acting as klansmen, per se, but of them not being very educated about anti-Blackness as being a separate level beyond mere generic racism from white folks towards non white folks, and of the principle that you don't get to traumatize an oppressed group by making it more uncomfortable in discussing its oppression and you should take the hint about matters of identity.

As a former teacher I do think the "it's okay for Black rappers to say the N word and for kids to blast the music but only Black kids can sing along with *all* the lyrics and only Black kids can say the N word but also we're going to make fun of or even demonize any non-Black kids who don't love Hip Hop" needle can be hard to thread. So my classroom policy was that no one was allowed to say it in my classroom, and I would explain to the Black kids that it was much easier for me to enforce it if they cooperated with that policy. They all seemed to agree that made sense.

Posted by: Ile | Link to this comment | 10- 2-23 4:06 PM
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This whole thread is making me very glad I went to an effectively monoracial school. Talking to friends (of various races) with kids in London, the inter-racial grief those kids face at school sounds appalling.

There was a space opera, clearly drawing off the author's Coast Guard experience, where the main character gets out of the space-navy academy and is assigned to a dysfunctional ship where he's treated like shit, poorly trained, etc. And then later he gets transferred to another ship and discovers it's not like that everywhere, or even some sort of hazing ritual, he was just unlucky.

This sounds like "Mr Midshipman Hornblower" as well.

Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 10- 3-23 3:04 AM
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My high school is a lot better now, but it was horrifyingly bad when I was in high school, largely because of some assholes from out-of-state including a particularly jerky guy from Texas. There was one dorm which did a lot obnoxious pranks, and they pay up a confederate flag. Plenty of people were offended. One group of white Kids decided that the minority kids wearing Malcolm X hats were offensive, so the headmaster decided to have a moratorium on both. Absurd. Then we had a day where the school rented out a movie theater to watch the Malcolm X film and we had a day to discuss race. There were a couple of New England girls who became enthralled by the antebellum South culture. Most teachers were appalled by the confederate flag stuff, but we got a lot of free speech rhetoric from students, and I don't remember the head ever condemning the confederate flag.

He turned out to be scuzzy anyway for other reasons.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 10- 3-23 5:52 AM
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re: 22

I'm not sure re: inter-racial grief, I suspect it varies a lot by area and by age. I have a 10 year old in a London school who starts high school next year and he seems to be largely untouched by most of that.* This is quite a nice demographically mixed bit of west London--wide range of income levels and backgrounds--so I expect that doesn't generalise to everywhere in the city.**

His school is majority white, I think, but I'd guess at least 30-50% of his classmates are non-white in some sense, and five of the seven teachers he's had have been non-white. The high school he'll probably go to is similar, and as far as I can tell, all of the groups of teenagers are randomly assorted groups of loud annoying kids rather than groups of annoying kids self-segregated by race or background and I don't hear much use of racial epithets.

* not in some "I don't even see race" bullshitty sense, but just in the sense that he's not especially aware of it as a source of tension and doesn't single it out as a particularly salient bit of information to give me when he's talking to me about someone he knows. He's aware that racism exists, and even that some of his friends or their parents have experienced it.
** A couple of friends are senior teachers at other high schools in the area, and do have more stories of racially segregated "gangs" and issues between groups but even then, I don't think it's as bad as it can be elsewhere.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 10- 4-23 5:50 AM
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Yeah, my kids' school, I got the impression that there was inter-ethnic protocol and manners, and more than zero conflict, but that it wasn't miserably conflicty at all. I mean, I got everything through Sally and Newt, so I might be hopelessly deluded about how bad things were, but I don't think they were bad.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 10- 4-23 6:26 AM
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21.2 is very sensible.

My kids' schools varied between majority white and majority Black, but they both started in a heavily Black school with a Black principal & Black teachers, so they learned the relevant lessons pretty young, and AFAIK never had racial issues in school, nor were witness to anything really discordant (at least in terms of simmering issues, vs individual conflicts that I'm sure happen).

As far as general behavior, Iris and their friends were all wonderful tweens and teens, although there was a year of drama in 4th-5th grades, and college brought the inevitable drama of people bonding too quickly and breaking up and mixed alliances etc. Like, fine overall but sometimes the stories seem unpleasant.

Kai (15) randomly alternates between sweetness and being a belligerent asshole for no reason. I think he gets completely in his own head and reacts strongly to anything breaking into that, no matter how gentle and minor. AB gets the brunt of that, and we just hope it passes.

Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 10- 5-23 8:24 AM
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